Garrison Institute Report: Climate, Buildings and Behavior Symposium

Social change for climate responsibility is imperative. Buildings, facilities, and other real estate professionals have a key role in addressing climate issues since structures account for about 40% of greenhouse gas emissions and where buildings are determine transportation GHGs. Many people are working on improving building design, creating technical solutions to reducing GHGs. A growing concern in the industry is moving past technical issues to user behavior issues. How can the people who use, occupy and interact with buildings take more responsibility for how they generate greenhouse gasses? Even with all the best technology available, people still need energy in buildings and their energy utilization choices and patterns ultimately determine total energy used in a building.

A growing number of building professionals are sharing insights and information, to explore the sociological and psychological dimensions of energy efficiency in buildings and the human response to the climate emergency. One such group has coalesced at the Garrison Institute, a center for the study and practice of mindfulness in New York, an hour north of the City along the Hudson River. Their motto is “Inspired Thinking, Thoughtful Action.” Under the auspices of the Climate, Mind and Behavior program, led by Karen Ehrhardt-Martinez, the Institute has vancouver payday loan companies hosted a series of gatherings (symposia) for building professionals to create a discipline around behavior and energy use in buildings.

I attended the most recent symposium this past week, and I was honored to be among the true leaders of the movement. My practical experience at Castle Square enabled me to be fluent in the work of community engagement. I was humbled by my colleagues who have taken their practice into entire portfolios of affordable housing, student housing and institutions, and commercial buildings. The two-and-a-half days were chock full of presentations and conversations. The lunches and evenings lingered with spontaneous gatherings and networking. I made amazing connections and learned a great deal.

I volunteered to help build a “hub” in Boston to join other hubs in Denver and in Charlotte, to help continue to grow the community of practitioners. Ed Connolly at New Ecology agreed to help coordinate, he is a maven in community engagement for sustainability in affordable housing. Kurt Roth at Fraunhofer agreed to add a lot of academic/research firepower to the mix. We’ll see who else we can enlist. The intersection of behavioral sciences, building utilization, and energy efficiency is an exciting space to be in. Stay tuned!

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